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Marines raise flag on Iwo Jima

February
23
1945

On this day in 1945, Cpl. Harlon Block of Weslaco appeared in one of the most indelible images to come out of World War II. For three days the men of Company E, Second Battalion, Twenty-eighth Marines, had fought their way to the top of Mount Suribachi, a 550-foot-high extinct volcano at the southern end of the island of Iwo Jima. They first raised a small flag to signal their victory to their fellows below, and a larger flag later. In Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal's picture of the six men raising this second flag, which won the Pulitzer Prize, the twenty-year-old Block was the stooping figure guiding the base of the flagpole into the volcanic ash. He never saw the famous picture, however, as he was killed in action on March 1 as his unit advanced in the direction of Mishi Ridge. Block was buried in the Fifth Marine Division cemetery at the foot of Mount Suribachi, though his body was taken home to Weslaco in 1949.

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